Wonder Woman: Blue Amazon |
by Jean-Marc Lofficier,
Randy Lofficier, Ted McKeever
(DC Comics, 2002)
Wonder Woman: Blue Amazon is the final installment in Lofficier/McKeever Elseworlds' trilogy that began with Superman: Metropolis and continued with Batman: Nosferatu.
Like the previous chapters, this story pays homage to German cinema in the form of a plotline that is one part Josef Von Sternburg's The Blue Angel, which starred the inimitable Marlene Dietrich, and Fritz Lang's Doctor Mabuse: The Gambler. There's also a bit of The Island of Dr. Moreau thrown in for good measure.
It takes place in the "Metropolis" of the Super-Man story. Both the Super-Man and the Nosferatu of that futuristic city have starring roles and this installment is rather heavily dependent on the first two, so it helps to have read those volumes first; otherwise, it's hard to pick up on everything that takes place.
There's a dark nightclub, owned by a Dr. Psyko, called The Palace of Sin, that boasts a very special attraction: the hypnotic, and seemingly hypnotized, Blue Amazon, who draws the patrons of that rather sleazy establishment like honey draws flies, including one Steve Trevor-son, a man engaged in rebuilding the city from the dark days of Lutor. He is the only one who can see her for what she truly is, instead of just lusting after her. After witnessing the Blue Amazon providing entertainment for the club's more sadistic patrons, he clumsily attempts to rescue her from the evil doctor who controls her mind. Instead, he ends up falling right into the hands of Dr. Psyko.
Meanwhile, in the City, a half-woman, half-cheetah is hunting for Diana for a very desperate reason of her own: she needs the Amazon Princess to keep Heaven going.
From there a war between Heaven and Earth ensues as Cheetah, trying to kill off the Super-Man for Dr. Psyko in exchange for Diana, leads a race of Amazons against Super-Man and Nosferatu's Arkham Army, a war she comes very close to winning until Diana emerges to challenge her to single combat for the right to rule Heaven. A very dramatic finale ensues, with Trevor-son playing an important romantic role, as per the rules of Happy Endings.
There are a lot of good things about this story, and a lot of bad things. Unfortunately, the bad things are blocking the good. For one thing, Wonder Woman is a mindless victim, and not in a way that either incites empathy or adds flavor to the drama. There's little, if any, justification for the endless torture to which she is subjected. Neither the recovery of her memory, nor the presence she provides in the ending battle, lend any real strength to her character.
The prose is absolutely turgid, the dialogue as stiff as it gets. Far too much of the story is contained in dialogue-heavy bursts that don't adequately bridge the gap between the flow of the action and the words. The book might have done better to add more installments as necessary to effectively capture all the unfolding action that crowds the pages.
Additionally, too much panel space is spent on the war between Super-Man and Nosferatu and the Amazons. The Cheetah/Diana climax is almost an afterthought. Blue Amazon is passionate and stylish but smacks of overreach. This Amazon is not really a Blue Amazon. Her image simply does not fit in very well with the version that Marlene Dietrich played in the film. They could not be more different, and it seems the only way the Lofficiers can get the two images to meet is through a well thought-out but ultimately futile imprisonment that literally forces Diana into a subjective role so complete it simply cannot be redeemed, even at the end when her mind is freed and she challenges the Cheetah to combat.
The art is dark but, far from being experimental or erotic, is surrealistically overdone, in a bad drug trip kind of way. McKeever works hard to make the connections, like a true artist, and the work, difficult though it is, does reflect his passion. As far as this part of the Trilogy of Homage to Ancient Films is concerned, however, the story and the film are, in this case, very different creatures. While Metropolis and Nosferatu stood up very well on their own, Blue Amazon does not, due in part to overly experimental art but more because the writers make the same mistake almost all writers save Perez do when they approach the character of Wonder Woman: they fail to trust the strength of the character. There are better Wonder Woman Elseworlds stories out there.